Review by samurai_
"This could be the best."
Virtua fighter 4 is a game that excells on all levels. It is a game that breathes life into an otherwise stale genre, and reminds you of why you play video games to begin with. It's an instant classic that's sure to fill a hard core fighting fans appetite for months if not years to come. That being said, the game is not for everyone. It requires a great deal of patience, and the easily frustrated should look elsewhere.
Graphics: VF4 is a good looking game. It's not a great looking game, though. Comparisons are inevitable, so let's put all our cards on the table. VF4 can't compare to DOA3 graphically. It's way to jagged, rough, and shiny to step into the ring with DOA3. That being said, VF4 has a gritty, realistic look to it that DOA3 or Tekken does not have. The character models seem to be more detailed, and in a way ''better'' then DOA3's. The characters look grittier, meaner, and a hell of allot more human then DOA's or other 3-D fighters guys. Wolf looks like an insane badass, Akira looks like power personified, and Lau is just plain scary. In short, everyone except some of the girls look very, very rough and tough-like they are capable of dismantling anyone that gets put before them. The backgrounds are the games main graphical fault. They are well done, but they are so jagged and rough that they look a bit ugly at times. There are great little details like snow being kicked up by the fighters in one stage, but you'll quickly notice the snow is in shards, like cut paper. If you've seen DOA, you'll wince in the beginning. But, VF's graphics are nothing to scoff at, and the kick ass character models make up for the ripped up backgrounds.
The sound is very bare bones. All those cool sounds that you have come to love from the VF series are here, and sound great. Unfortunately, it's not enough. Some moves should have a bone crunch to them, but don't. Still, the sound is adequate and you will feel an impact from every move. The BGM is mostly forgetable, if not annoying at times. The only in game music I like is the menu music, which is very reminiscent of Phantasy Star Online. The high point of the games sounds are the character voices themselves. Some of these voices will be in the prematch cutscene or even better, during actual moves. Some guys sound like complete scrubs (Ohhh, I just want to smack Lion and Jacky around), but most sound powerful and TOUGH (Akira), Scary (Kage), sexy and graceful (Aoi), and comical (Shun). Overall, the sound is pretty Good.
The presentation of this game is smooth and cool.When you watch the intro, you will be hooked. Navigating the menu screens is equally impressive. Everything has a cool as ice style. Silver menu screens, a clear and calm female voice telling what option you pick, water rippling in the background of the menu...This is not your average game presentation.
So, how's the control? I'd have to say perfect or close to it. If your move isn't coming out, it's not because of the game, it's because of you. You do the right move within the right time, and you'll get the right result.
The gameplay is what makes VF4 the best fighter out now. VF4 requires a great deal of patience, more so then those or any fighter I have played yet (2-D or 3-D). It's not a game where memorizing comboes and air juggles will get you to 1st place (although that is a part of it). VF4 requires patience, aggressiveness, intelligence, timing and above all, perseverance. It's not a pick up and play game. It's true, some characters are suited for beginners, but you can only expect to beat the cpu on low level settings if you don't have a basic feel of your character and his/her style. To truly make waves, you have to be in here for the long haul. I can't emphasise enough how much dilligence and patience this game takes. Mashing will get you nowhere, you may be able to make some moves come out with Jacky or Lei-fei, but when using a guy like Akira...you might as well hang it up. If your serious, and you want gameplay that gives back what you give it, VF4 is the way to go. You'll find next to everything matters in this game-distance, timing, circular movements compared to linear movements, combo knowledge, move memorization...all these things are key to being a good player.
This game is off the charts for extras. One thing though, don't expect endings or any of that. Instead, you'll get more modes then you can shake a stick at. Everything ranging from Kumite mode, where you fight AI characters patterened after real life players and unlock items and clothing to make your character of choice unique in apperance (Very COOL) and rank...to AI training mode, where you train a characters AI and then pit him against the cpu or a friends AI character. But of all these modes, the most useful are the various training modes VF4 offers. In my case, I could never use Akira. He was too hard and too different for me to use. After hours of basic training with him in the various training modes, I now have a very basic understanding of the character. This is a first for me in the VF series, I could NEVER use this character before, and it's a great feeling to finally get a handle on the character. For the first time, my Akira play actually has a pattern and flow to it. I attack and defend, I don't spastically mash the buttons or hold my tension in as I do the one technique I know over and over. Instead, my technique is in the beginning stage of being simple, compact and powerful-exactly as Akira should be. That's what training mode has done for me.
In the end, VF4 is a game that is suited for most, especially hardcore fans. It offers the most refines gameplay in a fighter yet, tons of single player modes, character customization, and personality. It's hard to find fault with this one, aside from the graphical and sound limitations...which really aren't all that bad. It's the kind of the game that reminds you of why you play, and offers something new to your interest as well. Try it out, you'll thank me.
Overall: 9.6 out of 10
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 03/21/02, Updated 03/21/02
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